S'pore raises its defences amid more Covid-19 cases at home, in region

Singapore's tighter controls come as countries in the region toughen up regulations in the face of new waves of Covid-19 cases. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - More than 12,000 people currently on stay-home notice (SHN) have begun an additional week of self-isolation, the immediate impact of stricter border restrictions, as Singapore tightens up its measures amid a flare-up of Covid-19 cases at home and in the region.

In a sign that there is no room for complacency, some 13,000 front-line workers at the airport and seaport are being tested for Covid-19 after four seaport workers and eight airport workers were found to be infected in the past 10 days.

While the majority of front-line workers here have been vaccinated, a new cluster of eight cases involving officers deployed at Changi Airport Terminal 3 was confirmed on Sunday night (May 9).

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Sunday that the 12 cases from the seaport and airport are worrying, and that Singapore will immediately strengthen its defences against the more infectious mutant variants.

Among the measures are stricter segregation between workers who interact with travellers and seafarers and those who do not, and more frequent rostered routine testing.

"A lot is at stake if our seaport and airport cannot function," he said.

"One clear implication is our supply lines and future survival of Changi Airport. We need to protect our front-liners in order to protect the rest of Singapore."

Meanwhile, quieter streets and a reduced rush-hour crowd are also expected as more people work from home starting from Monday, under new rules that say no more than half of employees who can work from home should return to the workplace, compared with 75 per cent previously.

The new measures, which include reducing social gatherings of up to five people from eight previously, essentially take Singapore back to phase two of its reopening for now.

They will be in effect until the end of this month as the country enters a state of heightened alert in its fight against Covid-19, following the worst spate of community infections in close to a year.

Singapore's tighter controls come as countries in the region toughen up regulations in the face of new waves of Covid-19 cases.

Malaysia, which is battling a third wave of infections, has - starting Monday - banned all inter-state and inter-district travel for anyone who does not have permission from the police.

The move follows a public backlash as the government had allowed Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri bazaars to continue, even as it banned sports and other outdoor recreational activities in areas under a movement control order.

At the weekend, Malaysia recorded a three-month high in new Covid-19 cases, bringing its total number of infections to over 440,000.

Thailand has also seen a resurgence in new cases, and recorded its third-highest daily caseload on May 8.

The country is battling its third wave of infections, which began last month and has already logged more than 52,000 new cases. As at Sunday, the number of confirmed cases had risen to 83,375.

In India, the death toll has risen to over 240,000. It recorded more than 400,000 new Covid-19 cases for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday, even as several states imposed stricter lockdowns to try to curb transmission.

India has been hit hard by a second Covid-19 wave, with cases and deaths hitting record highs every other day.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.